The fastest 10 weeks of the year (also known as the high school football season) hits the halfway point Friday with another "meetin' of unbeatens" on the schedule.
Harrison Central, fresh off a huge 34-12 victory over Martins Ferry, and powerful St. Clairsville will play for the Coal Bucket in Cadiz. Both Buckeye 8 clubs stand at 4-0.
The Huskies used a balanced offense and a stingy defense to help coach Justin Kropka earn the victory against his alma mater.
ON THE MOVE — Steubenville quarteback Corey Stinson will lead Big Red into Friday’s showdown at Paul Brown Stadium against the 3-1 Massillon Tigers.
-- Ron Gardner
MOVING FORWARD — Weirton Madonna’s Ross Comis will lead the Blue Dons into Friday’s game at Cameron. Madonna is 2-1 after a 49-6 win over Fort Frye.
-- Courtesy Newbrough Photo
"You don't have time in the Buckeye 8 to rest on your laurels because you've got to get ready for the next step," he said.
That next step will be huge one for Kropka's gridders since the Red Devils are flying high after thumping Indian Creek 48-6.
In the win over Ferry, Harrison compiled 301 in total offense (112 on the ground and 189 through the air). Maurtice Hython rumbled for 130 and a score. He now leads the area in rushing with 651 on 73 trips (8.92 per carry).
Meanwhile, quarterback Rashaen Mitchell completed 11 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Nick Pelegreen had four grabs for two six-pointers.
Nate Olmstead also recorded four receptions. Mitchell also added a score via a 70 yard interception return.
"We told Rashaen all week that if we were going to win, we would need him to come up big," Kropka noted. "And you can't ask for much more than what he did tonight."
Defensively, the Huskies held the Purple Riders to 67 yards on the ground.
Ross the boss:
Ross Comis compiled 294 yards in total offense for Madonna in Friday's huge 49-6 homecoming victory over Fort Frye.
The junior quarterback ran for 128 yards and passed for 166 more (completing 10 of 16). He reached the house three times on the ground and passed for another score.
The Blue Dons are now 2-1. Junior Will Bowser had a big night on both sides of the ball, intercepting three passes and scoring after grabbing a Comis aerial.
Madonna visits Cameron Friday night. The Dragons (2-2) kept Beallsville winless last week and are averaging 30 points an outing.
Hold that Tiger:
The area's other unbeaten team, Big Red, will be busy this week preparing for its trip to Massillon. Reno Saccoccia's club ran its regular season winning streak to 16 with Friday's 34-13 victory over Brooke.
Kickoff for the 46th battle between the schools is set for 7 p.m. at historic Paul Brown Stadium. Massillon holds a commanding 38-5-2 lead in the series.
However, since the rivalry was restored in 2009, Big Red is up 2-1. The home team has emerged victorious in the three recent duals.
Big Red has not won in Massillon since 1962. The Tigers stand at 3-1 after recording a 41-21 win in their backyard brawl with Massillon Perry.
In the win over Brooke, senior quarterback Corey Stinson had his best outing of 2012, hitting 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards and a pair of scores. At one point, he completed eight in a row. Stinson and the rest of Big Red's starters spent most of the second half on the bench after rolling to an early 28-0 lead.
The guru says:
Friday's Buckeye 8 showdown will match the second and third rated teams in Division IV's Region 15, according to information from computer rankings guru Joe Eitel.
St. Clairsville occupies the two hole, trailing unbeaten Ironton. Harrison Central is third, a full two points behind the Red Devils.
Big Red is the fourth ranked team in Division III's Region 11. Through four weeks, Alliance Marlington leads the region followed by Millersburg West Holmes and Granville.
Indian Creek is 13th in the region. Meanwhile, Catholic Central stands at 16th in Division VI Region 21.
Big Red honored Saccoccia prior to Friday's game for the award he received from the Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame in May.
He earned the Coaches Achievement Award, making him the first Ohio coach to receive the honor. The ceremony was held at the Great Hall of the Sen. John Heinz History Center and Sports Museum in Pittsburgh. The hall has an established display on the third floor of the center.
Tom Averel, director of the hall, was on hand to recognize Saccoccia. In addition, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, presented a special certificate of recognition.
The TO blues:
If you glanced at the box score from Friday's Edison-Union Local game, you'd have a hard time believing the Wildcats fell 13-12.
Edison outgained the Jets 259-102. Chris Graziani ran for 99 yards while quarterback Nolan Marcus passed for 83 and added 44 more on the ground. He also scored both Wildcat touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Mike McKenzie's club had a nasty case of the turnover blues. The Wildcats lost four of five fumbles and Union Local recorded two interceptions. Five of the turnovers came in the second half. To add more misery, Edison was guilty of 12 penalties, resulting in 129 yards.
The schedule maker certainly didn't do the Brooke Bruins any favors during the first four weeks of the Sean Blumette's coaching reign.
The Bruins have fallen to Parkersburg, St. Clairsville, University and Big Red, teams sporting a combined 14-2 record. This week, Brooke will host 2-2 Wheeling Park for homecoming.
Looking ahead, the Bruins still must play Point Pleasant (3-0), Parkersburg South (3-1) and Morgantown (2-1).
Grand in hand:
Most high school quarterbacks would be happy with a 1,000 passing yards during an entire season. Brenton Colabella, the junior signal caller who directs Catholic Central's Air Daley attack, has achieved that mark in just four games.
The three-year starter threw for 346 stripes and three scores as the Crusaders crushed Toronto 49-7.
Colabella already has 1,168 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. He's completing 63 percent of his attempts.
Three of his prime receivers obviously lead the Daily Times/Herald Star coverage area in receptions. Zach Herrington has 19 catches while Michael Carapellotti and Kyle Laukert have 14 apiece. Ryan Fletcher is right behind with 12.
Running wild: 130, Hython, Harrison Central, touchdown; 128, Comis, Madonna, three touchdowns; 99, Graziani, Edison; 84, Robert Hayden, Big Red, two touchdowns; 72, Doug Maslowski, Central, two touchdowns; 71, Austin Marshall, Buckeye Local, 71; 69, Elliott Nero, Madonna, two touchdowns.
Gunslingers: 346, Colabella, Central, 17 of 25, three scores; 202, Stinson, Big Red, 13 of 17, two scores; 189, Mitchell, Harrison Central, 11 of 23, three scores; 166, Comis, Madonna, 10 of 16, score; 157; 148, Bub Haddox, Oak Glen, 15 of 26, score; 139, Nathan Kirk, Buckeye Local, five of 17, score.
Hands team: 6, Tyler Steed, Oak Glen, 60; 5 Fletcher, Central, 118; 5, Herrington, Central, 92, two touchdowns; 4, Cody Saltsman, Big Red, 46, touchdown; 4, Laukert, Central, 93; 4, Bowser, Madonna, 69, touchdown; 4, Pelegreen, Harrison Central, 41, two touchdowns; 4, Olmstead, Harrison Central, 100; 3, Matt Petrella, Big Red, 46, touchdown; 3, Shane Duncan, Buckeye Local, 109, touchdown.